New York Times

January 23, 2012

Two years ago, when the Supreme Court struck down bans on independent corporate and union expenditures in elections in the Citizens United case, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion claimed that money does not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” While it might result in “influence over or access to elected officials,” he wrote, it is not the same as bribery.

Last month, in a 5-to-2 vote, the Montana Supreme Court rejected that misguided reasoning and upheld a part of a state anticorruption law banning corporations from making political expenditures from general treasuries. The court’s dissenters argued that Montana cannot ignore the Citizens United decision — and they may well be proved right when the case is appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Still, the majority and a dissenting opinion agree that Citizens United has given corporations enormous power barely distinguishable from bribery.

Montana has a long history of fighting political corruption. A century ago, state voters passed an initiative that banned corporate spending to help or hurt candidates for public office. They were responding to epic political corruption caused by the copper kings who controlled a big part of the state’s wealth.

Read the entire article, here.